A walk through the Wood River Farmers’ Market, that made its seasonal debut in Ketchum last Tuesday, invites appreciation for the here and now and anticipation for what’s to come. The offerings at the popular Market, located at East Avenue and Fourth Street, unfold with the warming weeks. The first early summer stands offer hearty lettuces, radishes and my favorite, local morels harvested from secret verdant places. As days grow longer and hotter, tomatoes, zucchini, peas, beans, broccoli, peppers, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, huckleberries – all the pleasures of summer – begin to appear. The Market is constantly evolving, constantly surprising.
Amid all the fresh offerings from local Idaho fields, you will also find pork ribs and steaks and street tacos, oh my! The Market is a terrific place to grab lunch (all the locals do) or to take home prepared food for the family for dinner. Many Tuesday nights at my house feature a half rack of pork ribs (I dare you to walk away from the scent from the cooking meat at the Market), coupled with a fresh salad and vegetable and loaves of crusty bread – all purchased booth to booth.
Step right up -- dinner is served
For those with a sweet tooth, hop into the long, but worth it, queue for homemade pies with the flakiest crusts in creation. Sample elegant little cakes in miniature mason jars and abundant French pastries and treats. If you are gluten free, there are also plenty of rich, delicious choices.
And that doesn’t even begin to cover the local cheeses, glorious flowers, handcrafted pottery and jewelry, jams and jellies, tomato sauce, fresh eggs, herbs, handmade sausage. It’s a good thing we have 18 full weeks to enjoy the area’s bounty. And if even that isn’t enough, the Market moves to Hailey on Thursdays.
Everyone enjoys the first days of summer break with a sweet treat
Under Sun Valley Executive Chef John Murcko’s direction, look for a strong farm to table influence in the Resort’s restaurants this summer. Sun Valley’s complement of eateries – from the sophisticated grab-and-go Short Line Deli to fine dining at Trail Creek Cabin and the Ram will all feature local ingredients and indigenous flavors. The restaurant’s chefs incorporate what is at the height of freshness into their menus, constantly changing their epicurean alchemy during these warm months and into the fall. Please check back to this blog during the course of the summer for regular postings about our chefs and recipes from the Resort’s kitchens.
The pleasures and benefits of being a locavore are well documented and commonsensical. During Idaho’s long frozen winters, eating this way takes some work. But in the summer, just stroll or bike downtown. Enjoying the freshest, tastiest food harvested from just down the street or down the Valley couldn’t be easier or more edifying.
In Part 2 of Stories From The Staff, a series highlighting stories of former Sun Valley Resort employees, guest blogger Jennifer Tuohy discusses celebrities, Hollywood action flicks and meeting his wife on the Snowball Special, with former Sun Valley photographer turned Hollywood cinematographer John M. Stephens. Read Part 1 “Marilyn and Me, John Stephens on filming Bus Stop in Sun Valley”here.
Jan McCloud, left, posing in front of the first Snowball Special. She met and married Sun Valley publicity photographer John M. Stephens on the famous train.
As the 1958/59 ski season in Sun Valley came to a close, John M. Stephens left behind his role as the resort’s photographer to pursue his dream job as a cinematographer. But he didn’t leave the mountains of Idaho empty-handed. Alongside a burgeoning Hollywood career, Stephens also picked up a wife.
“Do you remember the Snowball Special that came into Ketchum from L.A.?” Stephens asked. “They sent me down to pick up the first train in, I guess it was Twin Falls, and take pictures of the Snowball Queen. I rode up in the boxcar. Man what a party. And they’d been partying all the way from L.A.”
The Snowball Special was a dressed up Union Pacific train providing service from Los Angeles’ Union Station to Ketchum. Outfitted with a dance floor with bar cars on both sides and two dining cars, the Snowball was a non-stop party train, entertaining its celebrity passengers for the entire 1,100-mile, 26-hour trip to Sun Valley. It was once called “the world’s biggest sanctioned wingding.”
“Anyway, I met the Snowball Queen,” Stephens said. “Her name was Jan McCloud. I took pictures of her and we got married and have two beautiful children.”
Clearly, Stephens made the most of his time in America’s Shangri La.
John M. Stephens worked from 1955 to 1959 as a Sun Valley publicity photographer before embarking on a hugely successful career as a Hollywood cinematographer
Once in Hollywood however, Stephens was able to fully embrace his passion for adventure. “There’s more than one way to shoot a bull,” said John M. Stephens in this interview with the Los Angeles Herald Examiner in 1967 titled John Stephens Makes Danger His Business. “Over the horn or under the stomach.”
This theory proved to be correct, propelling Stephens into the realms of Hollywood legend over his 5 decade-long career in movie-making. If you’ve ever watched a golden oldie on Turner Classic Movies and wondered how on earth they got that shot, the chances are, it was first shot by John Stephens. In the golden age of filmmaking, before CGI and green screens, Stephens was the man directors sought out when they needed unusual and exciting action sequences.
His big break came on the Oscar winning Grand Prix. “The picture won an Academy Award for its special effects and it was the electronic pan and tilt head camera I invented that got those close ups of James Garner driving around the track at 160mph.”
It was 1965 and the director John Frankenheimer refused to shoot slow cars and speed the film up, as had been the norm. He approached Stephens and said “How would you like to be the cameraman going 180 miles per hour in a specially built camera car while photographing the actual drivers on the Grand Prix circuit?”
“It would scare the hell out of me,” replied Stephens. Instead he devised the first radio-controlled remotely operated camera head, which captured the thrill of the race from inside the race, capable of producing never before seen shots, such as panning from James Garner’s face to Brian Bedford’s coming up right behind him while speeding along at close to 200 mph. All the while, Stephens was able to view the footage via a remote monitor in the relative safety of a helicopter hovering a few hundred feet above the racetrack.
It’s hard to describe just how breathtaking those hair-raising race scenes are, and you’ll just have to check out the movie (available here) to appreciate the full extent of Stephens’ ingenuity. It’s easy to connect the dots between Stephens’ time on skis barreling down Bald Mountain with camera in hand, to the incredible action shots he devised.
Stephens posing with one of the special cameras he rigged up to catch the thrilling race shots in 1966's Grand Prix starring James Garner.
“It was totally a new process and it turned out very well,” Stephens said. “They did a lot of stories [on the new technique]. Popular Mechanics wrote a story about it, I was in all the magazines and I started to get more publicity than the director.”
After Grand Prix and all its related publicity Stephens was in hot demand, an Arctic action flick with Rock Hudson followed and Stephens’ Hollywood status was set in stone.
50 years and over 100 films later, 80 year-old Stephens is slightly overwhelmed by his resume (here‘s the full list). When I ask for some favorites, he replies, “You’ll have to remind me of some of the names!”
“Six Days and Seven Nights, one of the last before I retired – with Harrison Ford and Anne Heche – that was a favorite. We shot a lot of the pictures up in Hawaii for the plane crash, it was a great location. Harrison Ford was great to work with.”
He had worked with Mr. Ford previously, on the classic action flickIndiana Jones and Temple of Doom. “I did all the ski action shots. When the life raft came of out of the airplane and they jumped out and landed in the snow, racing down through the trees and off a cliff into the water. I photographed that. It was about a 6 rating in heavy water. That was quite a challenge, trying to get those pictures in the boat. It was quite a bumpy ride.”
Speaking of water and boats, there’s a little film on his resume that stands out to a history, disaster-loving, romantic such as myself. “There’s a movie called Titanic on there,” I said. “That must have been quite the experience.”
“Yes,” he chuckled in remembrance. “I had just got back from Europe where I had been shooting commercials for Mercedes Benz. It was about midnight and I get a phone call from the production manager of Titanic. He asks what I was doing, I said ‘Sleeping.’ He said ‘Well get dressed and join us down in Mexico we need you on Titanic.’ James Cameron, the director, had been called back to Fox because the studio had pulled the plug on him and he wanted me to finish up for him.
“I get down to Rosarito beach at 6 a.m., half asleep. Jim came out and shook my hand. ‘Hi Mr. Stephens, I’m glad you’re aboard with us. I’ve been through all the film clips of the shots you’re going to pick up and finish for me.’ And that was it. That was my meeting.”
He worked on the multi-Oscar-winning flick for 5 weeks, shooting over 160 sequences, mostly concentrated around the famous ship submerging beneath the icy water. Which wasn’t icy, he pointed out. “It was a big heated swimming pool, the size of two football fields, down on the beach. It’s still there.”
“At the preview, Jim came up to me and thanked me for my work. Never heard from him again. When I heard about Avatar I sort of wondered…”
Stephens on the set of A Fine Madness with Sean Connery, the first movie he did after Dr. No. The inscription reads "To John, For the one shot you got right. Sean." "We played pool all the time on set," Stephens said, referring to the dedication. "He was quite the practical joker, he always had fun on set."
Speaking of working with groundbreaking directors. What was it like working with Steven Spielberg on E.T.?
“Spielberg was very adamant about the particular type of shots he wanted and we’d have to stick exactly to the storyboards,” Stephens said. “There was this one scene where the kids were being chased by the police, they had E.T. in a basket and they were on bicycles going off these plateaus. I figured out, well maybe I could do something a little extra.
“I had my small camera and I thought I could fasten it to the back of the bicycle, right behind where the kid pedals. So I’m building this mount, and I’m down on my knees attaching it to the frame and this gentleman is looking over my shoulder. He says ‘Hmm. That’s an original idea. I don’t remember putting that on the storyboard.’ It was Steven Spielberg.”
“He looks at me and says, ‘That’s a very good idea, I’m anxious to see what it looks like in the dailies.’ And well, we went ahead with the shot. It turned out to be a very exciting shot and he used it in the picture. Later he told me he appreciated what I was able to add over and above what the story boards called for. That meant a lot to me.” He went on to work with Spielberg on other movies, including the first Indiana Jones.
Stephens carved his career out working in the 2nd unit cinematography (traditionally the unit dedicated to high-speed action sequences or other difficult location shooting). He constantly strove to go over and above what the storyboard called for, get something just a little more exciting, something more unusual.
“I really loved doing 2nd unit work, because it’s where most of the excitement is,” Stephens said in a 1995 documentary by Jeff Coffman about his career. “It was the opportunity for doing the type of filming I used to do in the Navy. We do dangerous things, that’s part of our business. 2nd unit photography is very exciting. You never know what’s going to happen.
“I’ve been in this business quite a few years and its been very good to me. I’ve been on many, many major motion pictures, the credits are quite exciting. It’s been a good career.”
After Titanic came Bandits with Cate Blanchett and Bruce Willis (I wonder if they chatted about Sun Valley?), Conspiracy Theory with Mel Gibson, The Peacemaker with Nicole Kidman and George Clooney in Slovakia, and many more. “I was mostly brought in to do the special shots,” he explained. “When they needed something unique.” One such assignment was Field of Dreams. “I just did the final scene,” he said modestly. Arguably, the most famous shot in the whole movie, the camera does a gravity-defying sweep from watching Kevin Costner pitch a ball to a ghostly Shoeless Joe Jackson, to seamlessly panning out and high up into the sky above the farm-turned-baseball field to reveal a line of cars snaking off into the distance.
For the farm boy from Boone Grove, Indiana, the shot was a fitting tribute to his origins. And speaking of origins, he did manage to make it back to the place he credits for his long and successful career.
“I took Barbara [his second wife] to Sun Valley on our honeymoon. We wanted to retrace some of the steps I had taken. It was incredible going back to where it all started. All the memories. To see some of my pictures hanging on the wall there in the Lodge. It was quite an experience.”
The Valley Sun introduces a new series from guest blogger Jennifer Tuohy. In Stories from the Staff, she highlights the stories of former employees, talking about their time at Sun Valley and where their Sun Valley experience has led them. In this two-part opener she profiles John M. Stephens, a famed cinematographer who worked as a photographer for Sun Valley from 1955 to 1959. His groundbreaking career included such movie classics as Grand Prix, South Pacific, Titanic, ET, Field of Dreams and Indiana Jones.
John M. Stephens, the famed cinematographer who got his start in Sun Valley.
One evening in 1956 a 24 year-old kid found himself sitting in The Ram drinking with the cast and crew of a big Hollywood motion picture. One of his companions, chatting and laughing along with the grips, gaffers and cameramen of Bus Stop, was Marilyn Monroe.
Since the moment The Lodge opened its doors in 1936, Sun Valley has welcomed countless Hollywood stars. But stories of the ski resort launching Hollywood careers are few and far between. For the young John M. Stephens, sitting in The Ram that night was not only a dream come true, it was the start of a long, glittering and hugely successful career as a celebrated cinematographer. And it all began in Sun Valley.
A few months earlier, Stephens had been just another kid fresh off a Navy ship looking for a job. He knew what he wanted to do, he wanted to shoot pictures. The Navy had given him a valuable skill, the ability to shoot pictures in extreme, hair-raising conditions. So far, he had been able to apply that skill to the sport of skiing – photographing his pal Doug Pfeiffer at the ski resort he founded in Southern California, Snow Summit. But it wasn’t Hollywood.
After being unceremoniously booted out of the Motion Picture Cameraman Union office, with the words “You’ll never work in this town” ringing in his ears, he joined Pfeiffer on a trip to Sun Valley, Idaho, where the skiing legend wanted to shoot pictures for his new book Skiing With Pfeiffer.
“I went up there with him,” said Stephens, now 80, from his home in Laguna Niguel. “And while Doug went off skiing I went to the publicity department.” He met with Sun Valley’s publicity guru Dorice Taylor and showed her his book of ski action photography. Within hours he was hired.
“They gave me a room in the basement of The Lodge and tried me out that winter.” he said. “I took a lot of publicity pictures of the socialites that came up, Hollywood people, shooting pictures to send to hometown papers. I’d follow guests around and do a ski action book for them of their vacation. Skiing all the time with a camera.”
Stephens spent a spell in the Sun Valley hospital after breaking his leg during one of the 3 winters he spent photographing for the resort.
After a few weeks of shooting the likes of Gary Cooper, Leif Odmark and Sigi Engl on skis, opportunity came barreling over the mountain. “When the production crew for Bus Stop came up to Sun Valley to shoot, I was sent up to North Fork to take publicity shots of the production,” Stephens said. “I took a lot of pictures of Marilyn up there around Galena Summit and at the North Fork gas station. One day an assistant cameraman took sick and they asked me if I’d help them out for a few days. Dorice said it was okay, as long as I could still shoot pictures for Sun Valley, so I ended up working for them as a cameraman, holding the slate.”
Stephens captured this iconic image of Marilyn Monroe while she was shooting Bus Stop in Sun Valley. "We got to be friends on the set," he said. "She'd come up to talk to me, she was very friendly and very nice."
While the job wasn’t particularly glamorous, it opened up the closed world of the Hollywood studio system to Stephens. The crew took him under their wing, showing him how to operate the equipment and teaching him the basics of a cameraman’s job.
When another production crew rolled into town a few weeks later, Stephens was ready for them. They were looking for someone skilled and fit enough to ski with a new 70mm widescreen camera that weighed 25 lb, to shoot a promotional film for the first widescreen picture of its kind, Oklahoma. The shots of skiing in Sun Valley feature Trail Creek Cabin, Lookout and some excellent slope and tree skiing down Baldy in the 50s, all filmed by Stephens.
The first 4 minutes of this clip from The Miracle of Todd AO show off Spring Skiing in Sun Valley in 1956, all shot by John Stephens during his first full-time Hollywood gig. Right around minute 3 you can see the shadow of the 25lb camera rig Stephens was skiing down Bald Mountain with, in some cases, backwards. (Video not displaying? Click here.)
With two Hollywood flicks under his belt, he headed back to the union office and walked out with his coveted card. His next stop was to look up his Bus Stop friends at 20th Century Fox. They introduced him to the head cameraman who hired Stephens as 2nd assistant cameraman on South Pacific.
He went back to Sun Valley for two more winters following his Hollywood breakthrough, and today he says he owes it all to the little mountain town. “It was in Sun Valley that it all got going, Got me into the union and started a career that has been spectacular,” Stephens said.
One of Stephens' skiing action shots for Sun Valley.
“John Stephens has gone where the action is,” said the Society of Operating Cameramen in 1994 when it gave him the Technical Achievement Award for developing the first remotely controlled pan and tilt head camera on the Oscar-winning Grand Prix. “A top second unit cameraman and director he has photographed some of the most exciting images ever recorded on film. From breaking new ground on Grand Prix to the exciting bicycle chase in Steven Spielberg’s ET, John has photographed the action from virtually every kind of vehicle, from lear jets to helicopters. (He has survived three helicopter crashes).”
The summer after his final Sun Valley ski season, he was hired to work on Lets Make Love. On his first day on set he was standing behind the camera when a pair of hands slipped over his eyes. “Well, well,” an unmistakable voice said into his ear. “Now what are you doing here?” It was Marilyn.
In Part 2 of Stories from the Staff Jennifer talks to Stephens about his extraordinary career post-Sun Valley and what it was that brought him back here 30 years ago. Among other tidbits, he discusses stepping in at the last minute to help on James Cameron’s Titanic, working with Steven Spielberg and developing that groundbreaking cinematography in Grand Prix. Read the post here.
Enjoy the food, the putt-putt golf and the views this Father's Day at the Sun Valley Club
Scenario No. 1
On Father’s Day, Sunday, June 16, your father, who works so hard and does so much for your family, opens his well-intentioned gift. Imagine his delight at receiving (a) a new set of drill bits (b) a tie (very useful for Idaho) (c) a new electronic gadget that his children will proceed to take away from him, ‘just to help set it up!’ Proceed to the backyard and put him to work over the grill, preparing a festive meal for the gang. Watch the joy on mom’s face as she realizes she gets to clean up!
Scenario No. 2
Hear the sound of laughter ricochet off the manicured greens as dad and the family enjoy a rousing round of putt-putt at the Sun Valley Club. Everyone’s short game skills are put to the test. Victory is celebrated, defeat quickly forgotten. The 18-hole Sawtooth Putting Course offers 52,000 square feet of fun for every age and skill level. And the best part? On June 16, putt-putt is complimentary!
Try your skill, or just have fun, on the Sawtooths Putting Course
Next, your group, comprised perhaps of dads, grandfathers, friends, children and spouses then walks a few short feet to the Clubhouse for a fabulous feast that dad doesn’t have to cook and mom doesn’t need to clean up.
Tuck into a special menu. Choices include a rack of baby back ribs or chicken with baked beans, corn on the cob, potato, corn bread and honey butter or an old fashioned western bacon cheeseburger and, of course, beer. If dad prefers to celebrate his big day with a gin and tonic, there is also a full bar. The restaurant’s regular lunch menu, including fresh and healthy salads, sandwiches and other favorites will also be served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. A special late afternoon menu will be available until 5 p.m.
The Clubhouse is casual, but elegant, with spacious tables conducive to conversation. Dine on the deck or inside. Both spots offer stunning views of Baldy, Dollar and the rolling, expansive greens of the Trail Creek Golf Course. In fact, if dad was inspired by the putt-putt, he may end up playing the front nine.
The Sun Valley Club provides the perfect backdrop for Father's Day
Sun Valley was recently recognized by Golf Digest as one of the top 75 resort courses in North America. The signature Trail Creek course challenges golfers of any ability. The legendary Robert Trent Jones, Jr. designed this traditional alpine course in 1980 with a full compliment of stream carries and ominous bunkers well positioned to catch the errant shot. Just across the street, dad may also choose to tackle the White Clouds course. Encircled by some of the most sublime scenery in the Lower 48, dad will enjoy these nine holes, situated on cloud nine. This course complements the Trail Creek Course by presenting contrasting play with more sand trap shots, side-hill lies, risk-reward and blind shots.
The Clubhouse is consistently my father’s favorite spot to have lunch, so our family will certainly be stopping in on the 16th for a memorable meal and to swing at some golf balls. Treat your dad, and the entire gang, to a wonderful, relaxing and delicious Father’s Day in Sun Valley. Just come on in. No reservations are needed. The memories will last forever and he will certainly appreciate it more than another necktie.
Happy Father's Day to my dad who always has my back and who is my favorite fishing buddy
Father’s Day has the highest percentage of collect calls of any day during the year.
Father’s Day has been celebrated in the United States on the third Sunday of June since 1972.
The welcome mat is out at a la mode. Come on in for a sweet treat!
Picture this: It’s a late summer afternoon in Sun Valley. The strong sun is high in the sky. You are hot. Most likely, you have spent the morning hiking, biking, golfing, playing tennis, riding horses, swimming or enjoying any of the other countless activities that make the warm weather months here so spectacular.
But now you need a refreshing break.What better way to recharge your summer batteries than with cold, creamy, delicious (and house made!) ice cream. Step into a la mode in the Sun Valley Village and step back to simpler times. This old fashion ice cream parlor, that opened June 1 for the season, is charming and whimsical, featuring jars filled with brightly colored candy, oversize glass containers frosted with chilled iced tea and lemonade. And, of yes, ice cream.
Color and whimsy abound at a la mode
a la mode debuted its new summer menu this weekend, featuring house made and local ice cream treats for the entire family. Traditional ice cream, gelato, yogurt and sorbet are all featured on the menu in flavors from vanilla bean to tin roof to butterscotch pecan. Yum! Homemade ice cream bars come in varieties including almond joy, rocky road and orange dreamsicle. The list of toppings is 17 items long and features the usual suspects like marshmallow sauce, but also adds a twist with chocolate covered pretzels, peppermint patties and toasted coconut.
Feeling cooler yet?
And we haven’t even gotten to the creative sundae menu and the parlor’s most popular item: milkshakes. In fact, on Saturday, I met Carlos sitting at the cool marble bar at ala mode, savoring his milkshake. This true aficionado marked his calendar so as not to forget to come in on opening day because he loves the shakes that much.
Curious, and hungry, my family took Carlos’ advice and ordered milkshakes – two chocolate and one Oreo. When the freezing, thick shakes, capped with a festive swirl of real whipped cream were brought to our table outside, the children’s eyes were as big as their appetites. And the milkshakes delivered. Between gulps, everyone agreed, it is definitely the best frozen drink around.
Sundaes layered with flavor...
Thick chocolate milkshakes...
For the sake of journalistic balance, I strayed from the milkshake plan and ordered a banana cream pie sundae. My large dish, layered with crushed graham crackers, vanilla ice cream, pastry cream and of course, loads of bananas and whipped cream was packed with flavor and texture – delicious! All the sundae offerings (grasshopper, strawberry shortcake, chocolate chip cookie, peanut butter cookie, fudge brownie, cheesecake) incorporate fresh ingredients from both a la mode and the Konditorei next door to create one-of-a-kind taste sensations.
Sated, and sleepy, our first venture to a la mode this summer was a huge success. This sweet storefront is sure to be a hub of yesteryear festivity all summer long. Truly, what better way is there to enjoy a leisurely hot afternoon than with ice cream, especially when it is this good?
Carlos, a huge fan of a la mode, gives his milkshake a thumbs up!
Take a guided hike up Proctor Mountain -- the view is worth the effort
Sun Valley lies pretty much at the geographical and spiritual heart of Idaho — the wildest state outside Alaska, with four million acres of designated Wilderness. While this is wonderfully inspiring – think of all the possibilities — it can also be a little intimidating. Visitors might be uncertain which hiking, mountain bike and road bike trails are appropriate to their fitness and interest level. Are the trailheads easy to find? Are the trails well marked and easy to follow? What is the best, safest and most enjoyable way to get out into all that Wilderness?
The Adventure Center at Pete Lane's in Sun Valley Village is your starting point for big fun in the outdoors
One ideal way to begin to enjoy our vast outdoor playground is through the new Adventure Center located at the Sun Valley Village location of Pete Lane’s Mountain Sports. With the introduction of this new resource, novice and experienced outdoors people, adults and families alike, will have easy access to expert advice. Even more importantly, enthusiasts will also be able to step up to the desk, located just inside the shop’s front door, and sign up for guided Sun Valley hikes and bike rides.
Choose a free “Welcome to Sun Valley” hike — a wonderful introduction to the area — scheduled daily during the summer months. Not only will you enjoy a pleasant hike, you will learn the basics of hydrating and exercising at altitude – two very important components of enjoying all the area has to offer.
For more acclimatized or ambitious adventurers, new this summer, are guided White Clouds bike rides and hikes up historic Proctor Mountain (home to the world’s first chairlift, still visible from the trail). Hiking Proctor takes approximately three hours and leads explorers through aspen groves, across wide fields filled with wildflowers and offers a pretty spectacular view of Bald Mountain and the Valley at the summit. Biking the White Clouds takes approximately two hours and wends on single track out toward Trail Creek, providing challenging uphill and exhilarating downhill.
If all of this sounds a bit too strenuous, stop by the Adventure Center to book a spot on a Wheels and Wine Tour. Focusing on Sun Valley’s rich history and traditions, your guide will lead you on a gentle one hour ride with numerous stops covering historical points of interest and highlights of the resort. The capper? The tour concludes at the Inn Lobby Lounge with a hosted wine tasting. Cheers!
Need anything for your adventure? No worries, Pete Lane's carries a wide range of gear
These experiences provide an enjoyable way to enjoy Sun Valley by foot or by bike while offering peace of mind. On these adventures, we will pretty much guarantee you won’t get lost and that you will have the proper gear and guidance necessary for an optimal experience. In fact, if you need a new hydration system, sturdy hiking shoes, a bike helmet or appropriate layers for the active Sun Valley summer lifestyle, that too, is all available at Pete Lane’s, steps away from the Adventure Center desk.
Your only question following your bike ride or hike will be, what’s next? Don’t worry. There are 3,990,000 more wild acres to explore.
Saddle up! The White Clouds are calling
The fine print: the Adventure Center is scheduled to open on June 15 and will offer guided hikes and bike rides every day through September 15. A guided hike up Proctor costs $29 while the White Clouds bike ride is $39. If you are drawn to Wheels and Wine, the cost, including the wine tasting, is $39. If you wish to rent a bike, it will be an additional $10.
For my family, summer is all about being outside. When, in late June, the sun rises at 6 a.m. and sets at 10 p.m., there is time to indulge in everything that makes the season so memorable.
After much consideration and heated debate around the dining room table, here is a list of the top five activities that define our Sun Valley summers. It would have been easy to name 50, but the winners are:
When you reach Pioneer Cabin, this is your reward
My favorite way to enjoy the wilderness and scenic beauty of the Wood River Valley, the Sawtooth Mountains and beyond (and beyond and beyond) is on foot. Whether I have a two-hour window in my schedule or the luxury of a full day to get out into the woods, the possibilities for eye- (and lung!) popping hikes are as limitless as the amazingly well maintained, beautiful trail system that originates in our backyard. In-town hikes like Adams Gulch, Proctor Mountain and Chocolate Gulch offer diverse topography and challenge. A short drive from town gets you into the White Clouds, the Smoky Mountains, the Pioneers and the Boulders. Tucked among these mountain peaks are some of the most spectacular high altitude lakes you will ever see, and even during “high season,” many of these trails are surprisingly lightly traveled. My all-time favorite in the Smoky Mountains is the Norton Lake/Big Lost loop — spectacular and easily manageable in a half-day. Given a full day, the Sawtooths are my destination of choice, with trailheads in the Stanley area about an hour’s drive north of Ketchum. One of the destinations in that region isn’t called Shangri-La for nothing! Oh! And hiking up Baldy to Roundhouse for lunch and a gondola ride down is pretty terrific, too! And cresting the final ridge up to Pioneer Cabin is probably one of the most beautiful payoffs, beauty-wise, in the world. This list goes on and on!
People travel from all over the world to fly fish Sun Valley. Try it and you'll see why
As the band the Talking Heads sang in the 80s, “Take me to the river, drop me in the water,” and for our family, this is gospel, as long as we get to bring our fly rods. Sun Valley is surrounded on every side by some of the most pristine, productive trout water in North America. Steps from town, the Big Wood River fishes fantastically throughout the summer, tempting novices to get hooked and offering more sophisticated fishing to experienced anglers. For children, Penny Lake is fishing heaven and a great introduction to the lifetime sport. Over Trail Creek pass, Copper Basin and the Big Lost River beckon with some of the most spectacular scenery in the state and south of Bellevue, Silver Creek draws fly fishing aficionados from around the world with its notoriously selective natives that challenge and delight.
Skating on the outdoor rink isn't just child's play, but it certainly is fun
With two figure skaters in the family, much of our summer is spent at the Sun Valley ice rinks. But skating isn’t only for those working on their Double Salchow! Taking a few turns around the iconic outdoor rink that hugs the Lodge’s terrace is a fabulous way to spend an afternoon. In fact, it is the coolest place to be on hot summer days. Skate rentals, attire to make you look like a gold medalist and admission to general sessions are all available at the historic skate house, as is the opportunity to sign up for a few lessons with one of the rink’s highly accomplished pros. Then on Saturday nights, beginning in July, the stars of the skating world shine under Idaho’s canopy of stars in Sun Valley’s world famous ice shows. We love to enjoy the bountiful dinner buffet before the show or wrap up in a blanket on the bleachers to see, up close and personal, the finest athletes in the world. This year’s lineup includes luminaries like Evan Lysacek, Ryan Bradley and Ashley Wagner. This may be your last chance to glimpse future Olympic champions as they finalize preparations for Games in Sochi.
Dining al fresco
Dining outside is one of the great pleasures of life, especially when you live in a climate where it is only possible for a short window of time. Whenever eating out is on the calendar, we chose to go al fresco. At the Resort, dinner on the Ram terrace is our absolute favorite, both for the food and the terrific view of activity in the Village. The swan pond, surrounded by soft green grass, couldn’t be more picturesque if an artist painted it. Other terrific outdoor dining at the Resort includes the terrace at Gretchen’s restaurant overlooking the ice rink, light fare and drinks on the Duchin Room terrace and of course, my other favorite, outdoor dining at the historic Trail Creek Cabin. A short drive from Sun Valley takes you a world away to enjoy outstanding food as Trail Creek burbles nearby and the surrounding mountains look, at sunset, as if they are draped in velvet. Other al fresco dining opportunities also abound in Ketchum and Hailey when decks and patios are the place to see and be seen all summer long, whether you’re enjoying a burger or a gourmet four-course dinner.
The terrace at the Ram is a wonderful place to enjoy a meal under the sun or stars
Leisurely bike rides
Nearly every night of the warm weather months, my children and I hop on our bikes, hop onto the Rails-to-Trails bike path that runs right by our home and pedal the evening away. This paved path is appropriate for everyone as it gently leads past Hailey to the south and well past Ketchum to the north. The route often runs next to the Big Wood River and offers more than 32-miles of pedaling possibility. My advice? Don’t rush. This is a great opportunity to simply enjoy the surroundings and the company.
Family bike rides are a terrific end to a busy day (and no worries, my daughter only took off her helmet for the photo!)
Summer possibilities are so varied, whether you are visiting for two weeks or have lived here for 20 years, there will always be new hikes to try, new mountain bike trails to explore, another stretch of river to fish or to whitewater raft, campsites you haven’t visited, a new stretch of beach at a mountain lake at which to picnic, a swimming hole to jump into, another opportunity to work on your handicap. Phew!
No matter what you like to do, though, the critical thing is to just get outside, be with friends and family and remember what summer is supposed to be about. Unplug, enjoy, unwind, explore. It’s summer in Sun Valley.
Everything that makes summer wonderful is at the end of this rainbow in Sun Valley
Sun Valley is the perfect place to focus on mind, body and soul
For years, I considered my lengthy summer sojourns to Sun Valley an opportunity to regroup: to think, to get fit and healthy and to change up my normal routine for the better. In other words, I always thought of my time here as ‘Spa Sun Valley.’ While many of my friends paid exorbitant prices at wellness retreats so that they could work out, eat well and get a little synthesis for the soul, I did everything they were doing and more, in my normal day-to-day activities. From mineral hot springs, to breathtaking hikes, from spa treatments to fresh, healthy food, Sun Valley’s clean air, sunshine and gorgeous scenery provided the ultimate reboot, addressing mind, body and soul.
And that was without the benefit of attending the annual Sun Valley Wellness Festival. This event, chosen by Travel to Wellness as one of the Top 12 wellness vacations in the world, returns to the Resort from May 23 – 27. It is my version of ‘Spa Sun Valley’ taken up a few notches! Whether you are traveling 10, 100 or 1000 miles to attend Wellness Festival events, you are sure to experience an eye opening and habit-altering reboot.
Hiking in the area provides a fresh vantage point
“Sun Valley has always been a destination for health and wellness,” said Nick Maricich, Sun Valley Wellness Chairman. “Since Sun Valley’s opening in 1937, people have come from all over the world for healing experiences in this pristine alpine environment. Whether it is skiing, fishing, hiking, golfing, bike riding or simply watching the sun rise over the Pioneer Mountains, being in Sun Valley encourages an openness to new ideas, a re-centering and re-framing of priorities. It is the Sun Valley Wellness Institute’s mission to build on these experiences and to help Sun Valley get the recognition it deserves as one of the top destinations in the world for all aspects of health and wellness.”
Energy guru Amory Lovins is a featured speaker at the Wellness Festival
The Memorial weekend Wellness Festival is the epicenter for this goal. For the mind, the Festival brings some of the most prominent speakers from many fields to the Sun Valley Inn. This year, one of the predominant questions asked by organizers is: What does energy have to do with wellness? The answer? Everything! Keynote speakers on this topic are global energy leaders Amory Lovins and James Woolsey. Their talk, to be held at the Sun Valley Inn Continental Room on Saturday, May 25, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., focuses on energy present and energy future. According to Festival organizers, “energy underpins our planet’s health and our personal health, from enabling alleviation of suffering from poverty, to providing clean air, to helping to ensure our national security. Energy is perhaps our greatest challenge, but also our greatest opportunity.”
During a break from Wellness Festival activities, the bike path awaits
Another part of the complete wellness picture, focusing on health and the body, is the Hands-On-Hall. Free to the public, everyone is encouraged to stop by the Inn for massage, healing touch, energy work, Tarot card readings and Henna body art that is particularly popular with the younger set (children are welcome).
To address the spirit, 16 workshops will be offered throughout the weekend focusing on topics as diverse as ‘Attuning to the Unseen World,’ ‘New Beginnings,’ ‘The Four Pillars of Health’ and ‘An Introduction to the Human Design System.’ These workshops are intimate and guaranteed to engage participants on a truly meaningful level. Please click here for tickets for all lectures and workshops and further information.
Trailheads to wonderful hikes lie just across Sun Valley Road from the Lodge, and spread north, south, east and west. Bikes are for rent at Pete Lane’s, located in the Village, and a bike path is readily accessible. Between lectures, workshops and inspiration at the Festival, take time to breathe the mountain air and let the Sun Valley sun work its magic. Take a break beside the scenic swan pond and let everything you have heard and seen sink in. Chat with friends in the Lobby Lounge. Grab a healthy bite at one of the Resort’s many restaurants.
The Resort's two outdoor hot pools are a great way to naturally relieve stress
To enjoy the full benefit of a wellness retreat, book a room at the Lodge or Inn at a special rate of $120 a night (please call 1-800-786-8259 for details and reservations). As a guest of the Resort, enjoy ‘Spa Sun Valley’ at its finest – soak in the relaxing outdoor hot pools, book a fortifying body treatment at the Salon and Spa, indulge in healthy food and wonderfully comfortable beds. All the Festival offers will be moments away.
You don’t need to go far for a world-class wellness experience. It is all right here.
Bike paths are your road to adventure up and down the Wood River Valley
While Sun Valley is rightfully famous worldwide for its winter recreation, the Wood River Valley is also biking Nirvana. From the 32 miles of converted Rails-to-Trails that stretch from the south valley way past Ketchum, to the hundreds of miles of continuous singletrack, to endless scenic road bike rides and downhill on Baldy, everyone here, from fat tire to skinny tire enthusiasts, loves to bike.
This passion for peddling was in evidence last weekend when temperatures soared into the 80s, trees flashed fresh greenery and everyone was out enjoying spring. Up and down the bike path that hugs the tranquil Big Wood River, bicycle riders were out in force. Seen on one small stretch of rolling, paved path between the mid-Valley and Sun Valley: tandem bikes, toddler trailers, training wheels, skinny wheels, matching Lycra and Cruisers.
Your bike awaits at Pete Lane's in Sun Valley
In-town mountain bike trails are quickly drying out, offering great early season riding. And mountain biking is almost an obsession around here. The area has been dubbed ‘Mountain Bike Heaven’ for good reason. To celebrate everything our mountain town has to offer, the Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival rolls in for the third year from June 29 to July 7. This comprehensive event features everything from Enduro downhill courses to bike demos; from Pump Park parties to the Ketchum Criterium and, of course, the USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike National Championships. There is an event for every ability and age group.
Local legend, mountain bike endurance athlete Rebecca Rusch, is also hosting an event this summer. The sixth stop of the 2013 Gold Rusch Tour will feature Rebecca’s Private Idaho, a gravel Gran Fondo style event to be held August 31 to September 1. This promises to be a lung-busting, Wild West ride covering 100 miles.
One young enthusiast shows how it's done in Ketchum's Pump Park
For a different perspective from behind the handlebars, both Hailey and Ketchum have free Pump Tracks open to the public. These popular amenities let riders work on biking skills (from absolute beginner to advanced) and have a great time utilizing features on the dirt track like rollers and berms to ride with or without pedaling by pumping for momentum on track contours.
Storied Bald Mountain converts from ski Mecca to biking (and hiking) Mecca in the summer months. Shaded and wooded trails wend up the mountain, often through fields of wildflowers. Needless to say, the views are spectacular. Downhill is also wildly popular. Many choose to let the lifts carry them, and their bikes, to the summit before enjoying an adrenalin-saturated ride to the base. No matter if you’re going up, or coming down, be sure to take some time at 9,150 feet to soak up the 360-degree vista. It will make your heart race, too.
Trails on Baldy often wend through fields of wildflowers
When you’re ready to get going, be sure to stop by both locations of the retailer Pete Lane’s to gear up for a great ride. The Village outpost is already fully stocked with bikes of every size and purpose, available to rent. With more than 300 bikes from which to choose, as well as helmets, clothing and hydration systems, you will be equipped and on your way to a local trail in no time. At the end of June, Pete Lane’s at the base of River Run will open, offering full suspension and downhill bikes, eradicating all excuses not to give biking Baldy a try.
The Wood River Valley is a two-wheeling kind of town. It’s not a Sun Valley summer (or spring or fall for that matter) without seeing our spectacular scenery from a bike saddle.
Idyllic doesn't begin to describe peddling around, Sun Valley style
Cheers! You are about to enjoy an unforgettable evening! (Photos courtesy of Guy Hand)
Let’s face it. We have all attended many memorable fundraising events that served less than memorable food. When the purpose is to paddle up for worthwhile causes, dinner often plays second string to a starting lineup of socializing and shopping auction items.
On May 21, however, food will be the focal point at Edible Idaho’s Trail Creek Dinner Benefit for the Hunger Coalition – an opportunity to do good and eat really, really well. Foodies rejoice!
Sun Valley's own award-winning Chef Murcko is known for sourcing the finest in local flavors and ingredients
Chef Gary Kucy will weave together tantalizing tastes for this memorable meal
Be among the 50 lucky people to enjoy this never-to-be-duplicated evening. Start the night at the Sun Valley Inn before boarding picturesque horse drawn wagons that will whisk you to the historic Trail Creek Cabin. There, star mixologists will greet you with specialty cocktails sourcing only the freshest and tastiest ingredients. Guests will then be seated in the rustic but sophisticated and romantic space to then enjoy a six-course meal paired with exemplary wines. Winemakers and farmers who have generously donated their products will be in attendance to answer questions.
Tickets are $200 per person and all proceeds support The Hunger Coalition of Blaine County, an organization celebrating its 10-year anniversary.
If you need extra incentive, a sneak peek at the Chef’s Tasting Menu planned for this glorious gastronomical gathering features the following (and much, much more): an amuse course including stuffed spring morel with sweet pea emulsion as well as dill & peppercorn gravlox, pickled trumpets, warm horseradish potato and chives. A sunchoke chowder with morels and green garlic takes the soup course from humdrum to oh my! Subsequent plates will include flavors as varied as a sturgeon osso bucco with bacon, Brussels leaves, fiddleheads, lemon and tomato; oxtail shepherd’s pie with goat chop, smoked ramps and potato; and an elk mix grill with roast Idaho elk striploin, grilled elk sausage, roasted garlic-sage potato puree and huckleberry-red onion marmalade. Is your mouth watering yet?
A ride on a horse drawn wagon to the historic Trail Creek sets the tone for this special night
Be sure to get your tickets early, as this event is sure to sell out. Then prepare to enjoy the finest fare in Idaho! Tickets and more information are available on the Edible Idaho Southwebsite.